Tim Gibson’s murder mystery Moth City is a genre-spanning digital comic that draws from the Western, Kung Fu, zombies and historical fiction. The slippery ink line work and muted palette is combined with an instinctual approach to digital-native comics creation, made of hundreds of swipes per issue, animating and exposing sections of the page. The New Zealander, whose tale is based in a place similar to 1930s Hong Kong, joins us today to preview his latest issue.
Clay N. Ferno: Hi, Tim. Moth City returns to ComiXology today. When we last spoke in June, you said you wrote this first as a narrative piece. Issue #6 is bringing all of the story lines to a head. Is the pacing on point to end at issue #8?
Tim Gibson: Yes, the story is definitely ramping up. A lot of the characters are reaching breaking point, having already made some decisions that they can’t come back from. The last few pages of Issue #6 imply that the characters are going to be coming back together again. Last time they were in close proximity, a man got his throat cut. This time there’s a heck of a lot more teetering on the edge. Issues 7 and 8 are going to play that out, and not many characters are going to be happy with the result (evil grin).
Going through the issues, almost each added a new twist or an entirely new genre to the book. Can we expect genre exploration in the home stretch?
We’ve had mystery and crime/detective, a bit of thriller, some horror, this issue has some Western tones with the showdown on the roof, so yeah, it’s a nice little gumbo. The story dictates a lot of conflict and drama to wrap it all up so the remaining issues are moving towards all-in action. Which is great because previously we’ve only had moments interspersed here and there.
This issue was particularly gory! Were these scenes fun and appealing or difficult to draw?
You’re right, 6 is a gory issue. I’m not a big fan of hospitals, and I had a particularly unsettling appendectomy carried out in India a few years back that influenced those scenes. So I guess the artist in me had fun drawing all the gore, and the human in me was uneasy, which is probably a good combination for making comics.
It seems choices from major characters are being made fast and loose. Is this because of a sense of urgency or impetuousness?
There’s a lot of pressure on these characters now, so some of them are definitely pushing on and damn the consequences. McCaw in particular makes some big calls this issue (not helped by copious amounts of whiskey), and Shuang’s impending birth is obviously pushing her and Jun into taking some action in a dangerous environment.
With the support of Thrillbent and social media and your funding, you’ve been able to promote the book in different ways. This was the first issue I’ve read on an iPad. What have you learned about digital comics from Issue #1 until now?
Digital comics are great on tablets aren’t they? Best business expense I ever had, that iPad of mine. What have I learned — that digital comics take a lot of work.
I had two options for Moth City: One, don’t tell anybody and quietly work on it until it’s finished (no webcomic, no ComiXology issues, no reviews, etc.), or Two, do the work and the release at the same time. Obviously I went with Two. I think it was the right decision, but heck, you can see why mainstream comics normally have art teams, writers and editorial, support staff and marketing people.
After Moth City, what next is on the horizon? A sequel … or something really different?
I’m doing some work on a really amazing WWI animation project at the moment. It really drops you into the minds and situations of New Zealand’s soldiers 100 years ago. I’m doing the art and the writing for that, so it has a lot of my comic stylings in there, but a very different aesthetic. I think people will dig it. I want to convince the producers that we could repurpose the art into an e-book or comic format, but we’ll see.
For more on Moth City, Gibson also has a Twitter feed.